No more trudging through the mud
By Nathaniel Christopher, Contributor
If you travel to the Coquitlam campus by SkyTrain, you have probably become acquainted with the muddy footpath that greets us first thing in the morning.
The path cuts across the grass field from the northwest corner of Pinetree Way and Town Centre Boulevard to the central courtyard. While there are two paved footpaths to follow, they are approximately 63 metres (206 feet) from the corner, which might explain why many SkyTrain commuters opt for a shortcut. It is, after all, the most direct route between Lafarge Lake-Douglas station and the campus.
Wikipedia describes this as a “desire path” or “bootleg trail.” Specifically: “A path created as a consequence of erosion caused by human or animal footfall or traffic. The path usually represents the shortest or most easily-navigated route between an origin and destination.”
The campus desire path is a convenient alternative to the official footpaths during the summer months, but it turns into a giant mud puddle whenever it rains. This, in turn, forces anyone who braves the path to trudge through the mud. It’s a rather undignified way to approach the campus. In fact, it feels like a middle finger to transit users.
I don’t think the college is guilty of malicious intent. Rather, I believe that it’s an oversight on the part of planners who view the world from the perspective of a motorist, in which the needs of pedestrians and transit users are an afterthought, at best. In short, it’s a symptom of Canadian car culture that seems to be a central part of Canadian life and identity.
Here in Canada, we tend to build our communities and society to accommodate cars as opposed to people, to the point where car-dependency is embedded into nearly every aspect of life. It really sucks. This is especially relevant at a college where a significant portion of students commute via transit.
In 2006, Douglas College lobbied TransLink to add a SkyTrain stop at the Coquitlam campus on what would become the Evergreen Extension of the Millennium Line. “Students have told us that one of the difficulties of taking classes here (at the David Lam campus) is public transit,” said Susan Witter who was the president of Douglas College at the time. “We know that 60 per cent of our students take public transit.”
The college knows that we exist. In fact, TransLink even incorporated the college in the name of the nearby station, so one might think that the college would notice how we are getting to school and pave the path.
A muddy footpath might not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I view it as a kind of “death by a thousand cuts.” It’s an insignificant experience in isolation, but the misery really adds up over the course of a semester. So, I respectfully request that Douglas College do this one thing that will make my day, and possibly many other students’ days, just a bit less shitty.